Professor attends ‘Black Girls Write’ institute

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Livingstone College faculty member and recent children’s book author, Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish, was selected to attend the “Black Girls Write” UNCF/Mellon Faculty Teaching and Learning Institute at Hampton University.

She was among 16 applicants selected that included scholars, writers, artists, activists, filmmakers, and others who produce work in the creation of and representation of Black women/girls in Speculative Fiction.

Parrish is the author of “Seven’s Heaven,” which addresses family displacement and the experiences children undergo when living with extended family members.

“I am excited about this opportunity because I plan to make “Seven’s Heaven” a seven-text series whereas the main character, Seven, introduces her young readers to moments in time with a magical journal and pen. This institute is exactly what I need to give me that push as our workshops will include dialogue about our research and crafts while also investigating/sharing how our work speaks to larger cultural, political or societal concerns such as health, violence and sexual violence, global economics, religion, politics, education, access to resources including food, clean water and air, and so much more.”

“Seven’s Heaven” will address many themes, but the focal point is children with imprisoned mothers,” Parrish said. “This is extremely critical in today’s society since women are the fastest growing segment of the prison population and more tragic, the average women are mothers to at least two children under the age of eight. My goal is to address the challenges of meeting the needs of children with imprisoned mothers.”

The institution was held Jan. 25-30. At the crux of the institute were the following questions: What do Black women and girls know of the future? How are they imagined, and when depicted, what do they imagine?

“In Speculative Fiction, future possibilities based on past and present realities is often contemplated. We wonder, what kind of humans we will be, if at all, and how we will experience our world?” Parrish said.

By bringing together individuals who are working with the genre – albeit from a range of different perspectives – the Black Girls Write Institute offers opportunity to collectively and collaboratively discuss how Black women and girls view and how they are viewed in the present, the near or a distant future in literary/visual works and/or through popular culture.

Parrish said she is interested in the institute because of its mission and understands the importance of “acknowledging the voices of Black women/girls who are conceiving or being represented as conceiving what it means to be “human” in evocative, newly-imagined ways; and conceptions of the future and/or future encounters between humans or something else – more or less – is another worthy undertaking, especially if those works are being created by Black women/girls or if the beings in the text seem to draw upon images/understandings of Black women/girls.”

Parrish is an associate professor in the Department of History and African-American studies at Livingstone College.

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